Sierra Leone’s top UN diplomat and Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts, Haja Zainab Hawa Bangura, and Sierra Leone’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the African Union Commission, Ambassador Ismael Koroma, have called for strong political will and collective action to end sexual violence in armed conflicts and post conflict environments in Africa and the world as a whole.
Addressing the 461st Meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on Tuesday 14th October 2014, at the AUC Headquarters in the Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa, Mrs. Bangura said sexual exploitation and abuse is growing, and has become a common weapon in armed conflicts, perpetuated not only against women and girls but even men and young boys.
She said her office is working relentlessly to operationalize the five groundbreaking resolutions adopted by the UN to provide global legal framework to address conflict related sexual violence. She however mentioned challenges confronting the implementation of these resolutions in countries where these crimes are committed.
She further stated that sexual violence should not be left to be addressed only by the UN but Member States of the continental organization should equally play their part to combat these atrocities.
Mrs. Bangura commended the African Union’s interventions in the crises in Mali and the Central African Republic, its dedication and quick response to establish an inquiry into alleged human rights violations in South Sudan. She also applauded its demonstration to address gender equality and conflict related sexual offenses.
Madam Bangura stated that in-spite of all the efforts made to end sexual violence by the UN, and other International bodies, a proper coordination and unprecedented political will, will serve as a major solution to the growing problems. “Our task to end sexual violence is not an easy one, but if we are working closely together and do everything in our powers, we can eradicate these crimes,” she emphasized.
In an exclusive interview following the session, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the AU, Ambassador Ismael Koroma, eloquently extolled his UN compatriot for leading the global fight against sexual violence. However, Ambassador Koroma expressed grave concern that the current growing trend of sexual atrocities, especially against young people, is not only a serious threat to the peace and security of the African continent, but it also poses far-reaching implications to the survival and productivity of the Africa’s future generation. He said the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria, with no clear indication of their present status over six months now, shows a negative picture of the continent’s future.
Highlighting the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone in the fight to end sexual sadism, he cited a number of strong measures already taken, among which include, the enactment of the Sexual offences Act coupled with the three Gender and Child’s Rights Acts to guarantee the safety and security of its citizens, especially women, young girls and boys in the post conflict nation.
Ambassador Koroma also emphasized the call made by Madam Bangura for a strong political leadership to end sexual cruelty. He commended the appointment of an AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, stating that it was a major step in addressing gender inequality and sexual atrocities on the continent. Ambassador Koroma stressed that only collective efforts and true commitment by Member States of the African Union will put an end to the gross sexual abuse and impunity against vulnerable sections in the continent’s conflict zones and post conflict environments.